Associates of Dental Arts
Dr. Gregory Kivett

Pros & Cons of Custom-Made Mouth Guards

Anyone who plays sports–whether child, adult, man or woman–should consider wearing a mouth guard. A split lip will heal over time, but a split tooth never heals, and if it’s an adult tooth, then you’re really in trouble.


  • Boxing was the first sport to introduce the usage of “gumshields” or “tooth guards,” as they were called back then. Unfortunately, the primitive mouth guards were nothing more than a thin piece of rubber that wore out rather quickly. They may have provided some protection, but not enough to consider using today.


  • There are two basic types of mouth guards you can purchase: over-the-counter from your local drugstore or sporting goods store or custom-made from your family dentist. Nearly 90 percent of mouth guards are purchased over-the-counter, most likely due to their affordability. If you decide to use custom-made, speak with your dentist or athletic trainer about the necessary thickness of the mouth guard–light, medium or heavy.


  • A mouth guard that fits properly will be protective, comfortable, tear-resistant, tasteless, odorless and resilient. The problem with buying a mouth guard over-the-counter is that it can be bulky, hinder breathing and cannot protect nearly as well as one that has been custom-made.


  • When you purchase a custom-made mouth guard, although expensive, you can be sure it will be better at protecting your teeth, plus it will fit comfortably without cutting the inside of your cheeks or gums. The custom-made mouth guard will be molded accurately to fit your teeth, leaving little room for error. It will also have the sufficient thickness needed in the specific area of concern, and your dentist or trainer will work with you and the mouth guard until everything feels right.


  • In 1995, Dr. Raymond Flander conducted a study of injuries occurring during sports games, and he found that when the players wore mouth guards, only 0.7 percent of the injuries were orofacial, whereas when the mouth guards weren’t worn, orofacial injuries occurred 34 percent of the time.
  • Custom-made mouth guards are designed to properly protect you where you need it the most, and they are made to slip right onto your teeth with very few problems. It may take some time to get used to wearing a mouth guard, but if you get the right one, you’ll understand its importance.
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